Andrew Cornwall, left, and Jon Sherman run Origins Cannabis in Redmond which opened this fall. Aaron Kunkler/Redmond Reporter

Andrew Cornwall, left, and Jon Sherman run Origins Cannabis in Redmond which opened this fall. Aaron Kunkler/Redmond Reporter

Looking Back: A Redmond year in review

This year was a busy one for Redmond as the city continued to see economic and infrastructure growth.

There was also a special election in 2017 which ushered in new city council members and flipped the balance of power in the state Senate.

Through it all, the people of Redmond continued make the city a unique destination in the greater Seattle area and Puget Sound.

The Reporter compiled a list of some of the stories which shaped the community this year and is presenting it in this story.

In city infrastructure, work on Redmond’s Downtown Park continued and is slated to be opened next summer.

The park will be located at 16101 Redmond Way and will have features like a splash pad, pavilion with a stage and a large lawn.

The majority of work on two key streets stretching through the downtown core was completed in 2017 too.

Redmond Way and Cleveland Street were converted into two-way thoroughfares.

The project had a budget of $27 million and shifted the focus of the roads to make Cleveland Street a new “main street” for the city.

It was the final project in the city’s plan to connect the downtown street grid.

Additional private development is still ongoing on Redmond Way, as it is throughout the city.

Growth has had unintended consequences for some small businesses, as owners in the Redmond Square found out after the building was sold to a developer last year.

The tenants were given notice they would have to relocate once development began on the Square, which housed many immigrant-owned businesses.

One of these, Nara Japanese Restaurant, was a family-owned establishment that had been in the square for nearly 30 years.

The high cost of commercial and retail real estate in the city forced the Chen family to shut down instead of relocate.

Owners of at least one other restaurant, Noodle Land, said they faced uncertainty in the future due to development.

“I don’t know where to go or what to do,” owner Tim Nease said.

While a public-private partnership between the city and economic powerhouses like Microsoft exists as OneRedmond, some smaller business owners the Reporter talked with this year didn’t feel as though there was much support coming from it.

A grassroots promotional campaign known as Hi Redmond was launched this year as a collaboration between small businesses and the city.

Some small business owners said they would like to see an independent business association started to focus specifically on local establishments.

In other commerce news, 2017 finally saw the three retail marijuana businesses open in Redmond.

The first, Always Greener, opened on Feb. 2 along Redmond Way.

It was opened by Jenny Carbon and Shauna Mindt who said they were learning about the product as they were opening the store. They hoped to educate the community as they went.

“That’s a great responsibility and we take it really seriously,” Carbon said.

It opened in a 3,000 square foot building and sells marijuana bud, concentrates and edibles.

Redmond’s first pot shop opened more than five years after the plant became legal for recreational in Washington following the I-502 vote.

However, the Redmond City Council didn’t vote to allow retail stores in the city until summer 2016.

Hashtag Cannabis opened later in the year along Avondale Way.

In recent months, a third retail store called Origins Cannabis opened up in downtown Redmond.

It is the second location for the company which has another store in West Seattle.

Origins is run by Jon Sherman and Andrew Cornwall, both of whom had experience in the legal medical marijuana markets before I-502 passed.

“We decided to tackle the 502 space together,” Cornwall said.

The pair work closely with their growers to ensure the quality of the products they sell, as well as listen to feedback from customers, they said.

They plan on expanding in the near future with an adjacent coffee shop and a separate merchandise shop in the same building.

The city itself expanded in June with a 54 acre annexation of unincorporated King County along 132nd Avenue Northeast.

The unincorporated neighborhood was an island of the county surrounded on three sides by Redmond and flanked by Kirkland to the west.

Residents in the neighborhood will now be able to connect to city sewer and receive services from the Redmond Police Department instead of from the King County Sheriff’s Office.

Roughly 200 people lived in the annexation area and the total assessed valuation for the properties was more than $44 million.

The city was projected to receive an additional $60,000 in taxes annually from the annex’s property taxes on top of other taxes.

Three new Redmond city council members secured seats during the November election.

In position 2, Steve Fields beat incumbent Byron Shutz.

In position 4, Tanika Padhye won against Eugene Zakhareyev, and in position 6, Jeralee Anderson beat out Jason Antonelli.

Also close to home was a decisive election in the state Senate’s 45th legislative district.

Democratic candidate Manka Dhingra decisively beat Republican challenger Jinyoung Lee Englund.

The race was the most expensive state Senate race in Washington’s history, with some $9 million pouring in from out-of-state donors and local contributors.

It was hotly contested due to Republicans holding a one-seat majority in the Senate.

With Dhingra’s win, Democrats now control all branches of state government, not only in Washington, but all down the West Coast, leading some analysts to hail it as a new “Blue Wall”.

Much of this has been pinned as reaction to national politics, including the often divisive rhetoric and actions of President Donald Trump and his administration.

This political atmosphere produced a sharp reaction this year across the country as protests erupted following attempts by the Trump administration to ban visitors from several Muslim-majority countries.

Courts later upheld portions of this ban, and several states have again challenged it.

Some groups in Puget Sound and Redmond have been feeling the effects of racial dog whistles in politics, including local Muslims.

A report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) released last May said the organization saw a 600 percent increase in hate crimes towards Muslims between 2014 and 2016.

The organization attributed much of this to the way the media has portrayed Muslims since 9/11, as well as racism and xenophobia perpetuated by the President.

The report noted Trump made statements like “Islam hates us” and threated to implement a Muslim database and issue special identification cards for Muslims during his campaign.

“It affects our children, it affects our generation,” a spokesperson for the Islamic Center of Redmond said in coverage from the Reporter.

In local sports, Redmond High School’s varsity football coach resigned his position after five years.

Jason Rimkus said he was stepping down to better balance his work and personal life though he will continue to teach health and work as the health department chair at the school.

“It’s with a very heavy heart I am saying goodbye and resigning as your head football coach,” he said in a resignation letter in November. “Redmond, I can’t thank you enough. I’ve had the honor and blessing to coach truly dedicated players, very supportive parents and a caring community; what more can a man ask for?”

And in lighter news, one standout story seemed to capture the attention of Redmond readers more than others.

In April, the Reporter ran a profile of 6-year-old Ira Ganjikunta who had been making three paintings a week and was gearing up for her first show called “Expressions by Ira” at the Kirkland Arts Center.

She was a first-grader at Albert Einstein Elementary School.

“I’m feeling kind of excited and kind of nervous,” she said.

All proceeds went to Ekal Vidhyalaya, a nonprofit that brings basic education to rural areas of India.

She became a Bob Ross certified painter, which requires she recreate four Ross paintings and be taught by another certified instructor.

State Senate candidates Manka Dhingra, left, and Jinyoung Englund, center, at a League of Women Voters debate in Redmond this year. Aaron Kunkler/Redmond Reporter

State Senate candidates Manka Dhingra, left, and Jinyoung Englund, center, at a League of Women Voters debate in Redmond this year. Aaron Kunkler/Redmond Reporter

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